Back to StockHome: Works for double bass - Stotijn, Broman, Crawford-Phillips, Gaffigan
Classical - Orchestral
Byström: A Walk to Schubert*, A Walk to Bruckner*, Infinite Rooms**, A Walk to Strauss*
Tubin: Double Bass Concerto^
Nordin: Piano Trio^^
Malmlof-Forssling: In Memoriam
Rick Stotijn (double bass)
Malin Broman (viola*/violin^^)
Simon Crawford-Phillips^^ (piano)
Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra^
Simon Crawford-Phillips** & James Gaffigan^ (conductors)
For the past ten years Rick Stotijn has been making Stockholm his second home, finding musical inspiration as well as new friends there. The present disc is a reflection of this, with existing and new repertoire involving the double bass by composers who have all at some point lived and worked in the city. The oldest work, as well as the best known, is the Concerto for Double Bass by Eduard Tubin, composed in 1948. Stotijn performs it here with the support of his own orchestra, the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra under James Gaffigan.
The other concerto on the disc was composed especially for Stotijn and for the violinist Malin Broman by Britta Byström. Infinite Rooms (2016) is a double concerto – in which the violinist switches between violin and viola – with inspiration from the Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. It was awarded the most important Swedish composition prize, Stora Christ Johnson-priset, in 2020, and comes with three ‘Walks’, potential encores which can also serve as bridges to the next work during the concert, be it by Schubert, Bruckner or Strauss. The orchestra heard in Infinite Rooms is the Västerås Sinfonietta, conducted by Simon Crawford-Phillips, who also appears on the disc in the role of pianist: Jesper Nordin’s Piano Trio, is an adaptation by the composer for these performers, of an earlier score for violin, cello and orchestra. Closing the disc is In memoriam by Carin Malmlöf-Forssling, a brief vocalise for soprano here transcribed for the double bass.
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Review by Adrian Quanjer - August 28, 2021
Apparently, the double basses have it. Shortly after Luis Cabrera, playing a mixed repertoire for the TRPTK label (Canto Interno - Cabrera, Maj, Huang), positively reviewed by Mark Werlin only a short while ago, another contrabassist enters the arena: Rick Stotijn, with two full length but relatively unknown 20th-century concerti, and an even lesser-known trio, wrapped up with some ‘encore’ type capita selecta, but not to be missed creations, the lot signed by BIS (and Take5, of course).
“Rick is a versatile musician with a moving musicality and an overwhelming virtuosity.” That’s what the jury said when awarding the Dutch Music Prize to Stotijn. One cannot but agree. Nothing is closer to the truth. Hardly any form of music and ‘beyond’, escapes Stotijn’s curiosity. Not only is he a fabulous musician, he is also someone with a charismatic character, ably promoting the double bass in all its exciting dimensions as an instrument ‘in its own right’.
Moving away from the Bottesini showpieces, attractive though they are, he attacks two contemporary concerti of which Tubin’s is probably best known. Britta Byström is new to me, as I suspect to many of us. That’s why I started my listening session with her. Written for and dedicated to Stotijn and the violinist Malin Broman it brings together two opposing ‘strings’, with Broman switching between violin and viola. Both are accompanied by, as they claim, Swedish’s Oldest Orchestra, with a complement of 33 core musicians, lending the concerto the charm of a well-oiled chamber work, despite its overtly modernist scoring.
Simon Crawford-Phillips keeps the various musical strands expertly together, thus allowing the soloists to do their glissandos and other technically demanding arousals in several, basically spaceless environments: the Infinite Rooms. Playing of both is impeccable, but in the frenzy and spookiness of the music often intertwined with the various members of the orchestra they seem to become part of the shared universe. That said, their solo duets, where the lows of the viola and the highs of the bass touch each other, are simply magical. Byström leaves no possibility of the instruments unexploited. Quite remarkable! This concerto is three-star Michelin food for the more adventurous music lover. A mighty interesting experience.
In contrast, Tubin sounds old-fashioned. Much more traditional. A powerful concerto, written by an unjustly neglected composer. Detailed though the excellent liner notes are, they do not mention the story of Koussevitzky’s refusal to play it with his Boston Symphony, himself just having finished a double bass concerto, for fear of being unfavourably exposed.
The concerto clearly poses enormous challenges to the soloist. Not to worry: Rick Stotijn is up to it. What a player! It is no secret that there are only very few who can play in tune all the way up to the highest notes. And even less who can do it so effortlessly that prime attention can be devoted to the musical content. He can. It is all there. Because, believe me, for those with a well-developed sense of pitch, this concerto can easily become an ‘ear sore’. The overall supervision is in the excellent hands of one of my favourite conductors of the next generation: James Gaffigan.
Then there is the other double concerto (violin & cello), but here shrunk into a Trio by the composer, Jesper Nordin, himself. New to me as well, my being not so well connected with electroacoustic music, of which Nordin is an expert. If you like experimental then you will most likely appreciate it. I’d rather go back to Britta Byström, who composed the ‘Walks’, going from one composer to another.
The liner notes are well worth reading and even a must for those who are interested and want to know more. The sound is as good as it gets.
Blangy-le-Château, Normandy, France.
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